Welcome to Sofia and welcome to our rolling blog for the Day 2 rehearsals of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2015. You know the drill by now. Just refresh the page to get the latest news on the contestants and their performances. http://youtu.be/IlOmzm4u_KA Our good friend Phil comes to us courtesy of OnEurope – so check him out too!. We also have John of this Parish. You’re genial host is otherwise engaged, but we are fine substitutes for yer man!
Phil – First up this morning, in a sneaky change of plan, is The Netherlands Shalisha has, this morning, a lovely sparkly top on and some candles on her old Pianola which looks nice . There are also two backing dancers doing things around her as well which looks decent when projected onto the backdrop. I have to admit she is doing a fine job of selling this song to people but this seems to have something missing. At points she looks like she looks pained when looking into the camera and , perhaps, she needs to tone it down. Not top 5 material yet but sparkly set and semi good vocal is a grower.
John – Shalisa brings us gently into day two and manages a number a runs through of her song. Her song is just that – gentle. She’s sat at her piano, so two dancers do all the moving around for her. Their dance is projected onto the massive videowall behind her and it gets a little distracting at times. It’s unfortunate, as the song is already very pleasant. I do get the sentiment of the dancers, however, as the song is about two lovers who can’t be together because of distance. On Saturday, this will be on after Italy which I think will help its chances.
Phil – This should have been your classic uptempo closer but sadly the massive gaps in the song that lend themselves to some performing and ribbons and stuff that didn’t look quite right leaves me flat and disappointed Jana tries to lift the song to where it could be but I think that the way it has been presented doesn’t show the song off to its best. If this stays at the foot of the table, as I fear it might as it doesn’t connect with the camera enough or is complex enough for the juries, someone needs to say “Jana, it’s not your fault”.
John – I’ve seen this sort of thing before. In several different ways. For those familiar with the senior ESC, it’s a little bit XXL from 2000, it’s a little bit Sertab from 2003, it’s a little bit Claudia Beni, also from 2003. I personally think it needs a little bit of work as Jana appears to be a little uncomfortable on stage, although some of the extended choreography is very well co-ordinated. This song closes the contest so will be freshest in the televoters’ minds. But she still needs to get it right and hopefully they will be the second rehearsal on Thursday.
Phil – I was just half heatedly paying no attention to her sound check and thought ” That’s nice, they are playing This Girl is on Fire in the arena”, turned to the screen and lo and behold Delta Goodrem’s protege appears on stage. Bella (Sans Sebastian…) has the look of a performer far too many years to old for this kind of contest and would look at home in the Senior Eurovision, in fact, so could the song and whilst I personally have issues with Australia being in any Eurovision Event (that’s not for here), Bella can sing this song, she can perform it first off and not take 3 or 4 attempts to do this and it is choreographed to be within an inch of winning the whole thing. I don’t think it will though are there are better “child friendly” songs but transplant this into the adult contest and it will do fine. Here, however, Top 3 should be assured.
John – My first impression of Bella’s performance is that it’s very very polished. It ticks so many boxes – decent voice, credible stage presence, well thought-out backdrop, effective choreography. Some have said that it’s in the wrong contest and I might be inclined to agree. Everything about this screams class, except perhaps for the silver skirt Bella is wearing. It is perhaps not her final outfit but it just seems a little out of place when the song sells itself anyway.
Phil – Mikhail took 25 minutes to get set up it seemed and then came onto the screen and, as you would expect, it is perfect on the screen and goes into English at the end in an attempt to get the votes up. This one, however, seems a bit light for me and seems to be trying too hard to be neutral ( understandably). Spot on vocally as you would expect from virtually everyone in this contest it may not have the universal appeal that other Russian entries have had because it is a bit weak on both the substance of the song and Mikhail’s voice but the latter is not a problem when coupled with this song. The other school of thought, however, is that it might get more votes because of that so, that’s covered all the bases their then… non-committal? – me?? However it does win Prop of the contest….. it has a HAMMOCK!!!
John – Mikhail gives an assured performance – what we saw of it anyway. There were either problems before he performed or the TVs in the press centre stopped working again. Anyhow, he has a dancer on stage dressed in white playing with a large white Christmas bauble. She starts on stage lying in a hammock that has a frame in the shape of a crescent moon on its back. Definitely prop of the contest so far. It’s obviously there to signify a dreamlike state. As mentioned, it’s a good performance and we detected an English language chorus at the end. He’s a decent singer which does bode well, but the Russians seem to have the knack in picking a decent singer for ESC (junior and senior). It will easily make top 10.
Phil – There are people in this fine fine basement that think that this song is a contender however there might be a case of nerves going on the stage and screens behind me as I can see what this is supposed to be (It’s supposed to be about reflecting dark forces, possibly depression according to the lyrics) but it just ends up as a mess visually and vocally the nerves have kicked in as there are one or two moments that can only be described as “not on point” – Also, from a personal point of view, the dancers and the dress don’t help to lower the tone, they just give off the wrong impression. This is supposed to be an emoting ballad but it could end up looking like something that is anything but.
John – After a nice lunch of pasta bake we girded ourselves for Kamilla from San Marino. Her outfit is a striking mixture of Aliona Moon’s rehearsal dress and a broken mirror. But her dress isn’t all it seems. For the second verse four backing singers, clad in silver from head to foot, emerge from the fake train behind the dress and do modern dancing. I found it a little distracting, even when the camera focuses on Kamila alone. I want this song to do well because it is well constructed, if a little dark in tone. However I think it’s not quite got what it takes now.
Phil – This confuses me. She’s like a female Peter Pan in reverse. She’s too grown up on the stage for the child that is singing the song. A big balkan ballad and no mistake but with a, facially, very young looking 11 year old trying to pull it off and, it has to be said, succeeding in the main. My problem is that look. Her voice is clearly an adults voice, but someone seems to have packaged that in a red dress that almost looks painted doll esque. I don’t know how that will play in the West of Europe but it should get votes out east. She never missed a note or a beat though, unlike some of her contemporaries today which is all good.
John – Lena is one the youngest singers this year, and her stature gives it away. The whole motif of the performance is red – red backdrop, red lighting and a long red dress. She’s giving a very dramatic interpretation of this song and there are lots of challenging notes which she hits most of the time. As the first song on Saturday, it will set the mood ballad-wise. My reservations on this are that it’s possibly too dramatic a ballad for this contest. Outside of the Balkans, where this style is de rigueur, it might come over as trying too hard.
John – Lina is all smiles when she’s on stage and seems very confident in what she’s doing. If she were sat at a piano on stage, this would be very very similar to the Dutch song we saw this morning. It’s quietly self-assured and performed with no histrionics – it is a song contest after all. We can tell that the co-writing of Maraaya is there, but it’s tempered very well by Lina’s input. The backdrop – Hogwarts Castle in winter and summer if you will – is very effective. Third on on Saturday night may not be the best draw, however I think it might still do well.
John – Last one was Anna and there appeared to be some problems setting the stage up for her. She sings out of a device that looks like a big gold lily, with five ‘petals’. There could be lots of things go wrong with this, so they will need to be on the game. Again, the prop could possibly detract from the song. As for the song, Anna believes in what she’s singing but I think it needs a bit of work in the stage direction. It could work and work very well. But it could also sink like a stone.
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